A BROKERING service which connects like-minded volunteers and encourages mutual benefit by exchanging "time credits" has been launched in Kiama.
Timebanking enables the voluntary exchange of services between community members, allowing people to earn and exchange time credits registered on a website.
By giving one hour to help another member, you earn one hour of time credits, which can be used to receive services.
Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello last Thursday announced the program's expansion to 30 new communities.
This follows a trial last year, in which 4300 volunteers registered to participate throughout the Hunter, Central Coast, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
Mr Dominello and Kiama MP Gareth Ward announced the new communities at North Kiama Neighbourhood Centre.
They included Kiama, Shellharbour and Wollongong.
The Neighbourhood Centre will be a hub of information for locals who wish to register.
Mr Dominello said new software was in use and the first Timebanking host organisations, like the Neighbourhood Centre, were rolling out the program.
"It makes sense for local organisations - which understand their own communities well - to have access to Timebanking," he said.
Mr Ward said it wasn't giving someone a hand out, but a hand up.
"This is a great innovation based on a simple concept - it enables people to play to their strengths," he said.
"You might have a gentleman who is fantastic at mowing lawns but woeful at playing the piano.
"Timebanking allows him to get piano lessons from a teacher down the street in exchange for volunteering his time to help someone with mowing."
Kiama's Jim Smith, 89, has been volunteering at the centre for about three years. He said it had been a vital outlet after his wife, Joan's, death.
Neighbourhood Centre manager Sharon Parker praised the initiative.
"We do have so many people who volunteer in so many different areas."
For more information go to timebanking.com.au, or phone the Neighbourhood Centre on 4237 8422.